Getting an education about various forms of retirement living in the Kansas City and Topeka areas can be overwhelming. To understand it, you need to become familiar with the language used. Concepts such as Independent Senior Living, Assisted Living, and Long-term Care, may just be a blur. Often, the term ‘nursing home’ is a blanket word used for all of these levels of care, which is a big mistake. In today’s world, there are many options to fit the needs of Seniors.
Not only is there confusion about what those options are, but there are also some myths that surround them.
Age Wave, a research and consulting company, surveyed the thoughts and perceptions of the 65+ population concerning various forms of Senior Care. There were five myths that prevailed among this age group. Age Wave discovered a dramatic difference between perception and fact. A great deal of the misunderstanding and mythology surrounding Senior Care was a lack of understanding about current options that were unavailable just a few decades ago.
They learned that five myths prevailed among this age group:
1. “My current home will be the best possible place to live in retirement years.”
2. “I will stay more active if I stay in my own home.”
3. “It is less expensive for me to stay in my home.”
4. “I can easily get the care I need in my own home.”
5. “Retirement Communities are filled with old people who are sick and dying.”
We will address these myths, but it is first essential to understand the levels of care available to Seniors today.
In an overview of the levels of care, we’ll start with the most independent living option and continue to the availability of round-the-clock nursing care.
The first level is Senior apartments or what McCrite Plaza calls Independent Living Apartments.
When Dorothy’s husband suddenly passed away, she was left living in a four-bedroom home with a big yard and some deferred maintenance that needed attention. She was overwhelmed thinking about the future responsibility of home ownership alone. She did live in a lovely neighborhood which she knew she would miss, and her biggest concern was integrating into a new community. She was still driving and was able to go to church and other community events, but she hated being home alone in the evenings. Her decision to move to McCrite’s Independent Living became the best answer. She sold her home for enough money to secure her monthly rental costs for many years. Dorothy moved in and loved her carefree lifestyle and all the new friends she made while still being able to come and go as she wanted. And best of all, her evenings were no longer lonely!
*Also available in Independent Living Apartments are home care services for short-term needs. In the case of a hospital stay, short-term Rehabilitation Services are available on the same campus.
The second level of care is called Assisted Living which only became a reality in the 1990s.
Knowing what care levels are available today – that were not even a possibility 30 years ago – makes all the difference. That alone will help clear up some of these distorted perceptions. As we say, “This is not your grandma’s nursing home!”
Options that we take for granted today did not exist until the 1990s. Assisted Living became massively popular once the concept was developed. People who did not need 24×7 nursing care had new choices.
The appeal of these facilities in comparison to nursing homes is obvious. They offer considerably more privacy. Residents can have their own apartments without the old nursing home model of shared rooms with a curtain between beds. Seniors living in Assisted Living communities can still live an independent life while taking advantage of onsite help from staff in typical day-to-day activities and the health care needs that come with age. These services include community dining, activities, exercise classes, and many socialization opportunities.
George was a single fellow who had been diagnosed with COPD years earlier. He managed at home and still enjoyed doing minimal gardening and home repairs. As his condition worsened, he was unable to manage his usual routine, and he needed additional oxygen to be comfortable. At that point, with the help of his siblings, he decided to move to McCrite’s Assisted Living. He moved into an apartment and had delicious meals, card games with the guys, and happy hour to enjoy. Most importantly, he had help managing his oxygen supplies and other healthcare needs. He even moved several of his favorite potted plants to his private patio in his new apartment at McCrite Plaza. The whole family was relieved that he was well cared for.
*Assisted Living may also include Memory Care.
Many Seniors who remain physically strong may have increasing memory issues. A diagnosis such as dementia or Alzheimers can be life-changing. McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff can provide Assisted Living with Memory Care. These services offer all the benefits of traditional Assisted Living with specific attention to memory support and safety.
The highest level of care is called Long-Term Care, Skilled Care, or Nursing Home Care.
This progression happens when the care required for a resident takes 24×7 management. A small percentage of adults will need this care toward the end of life.
One eldercare law firm reports that 5% of older adults (aged 65+) live in nursing homes. Of these, about 50% of nursing home residents are 85 years old or older, 35% are between the ages of 75 and 84, and 15% are between 65 and 74 years of age.
Although it is never one’s goal to need this care level, it is critical that it is available to all residents, whether they have lived at McCrite Plaza for years or a new individual whose sudden illness or injury needs this type of care.
The McCrite Plaza long-term care communities are nothing like the old images of hospital-like facilities with long linoleum hallways, semi-private rooms, and curtains drawn for privacy. Instead, McCrite residents have private rooms that are beautifully designed with large windows and comfortable furnishings.
Most importantly, there is daily care provided. The needs of these residents are very specialized, and it takes many care hours to provide the best results. These residents are treated with the utmost care and respect in their fragile conditions.
Maxine lived at McCrite Plaza for several years. She began her new life in Independent Living and progressed to Assisted Living as her health declined. Through her transitions, she maintained her friendships with many other residents and staff. It was important to her to have what she called her ‘McCrite family.’ As her needs grew, her family and the nursing staff knew it was time for her to have the maximum amount of round-the-clock care. When she moved into her beautiful room in Long-Term Care, she was surrounded and loved by her family, the staff, and her ‘McCrite family.”
Let’s address the myths we pointed out by the Age Wave Research earlier. In order to address each myth in detail and correlate it to the level of care that an individual would need, each misconception will be reviewed individually.
Myth number 1: “My current home will be the best possible place to live in retirement years.”
Today, a great deal is written about “aging in place”. The typical interpretation is that you should stay in your current home and get enough help to stay safe and healthy. For many, that makes sense, depending on their current residence. But the wisdom of remaining in a large four-bedroom home with a basement, attic, and garage full of personal belonging does not make sense. On the other hand, if Seniors have downsized to a manageable space, then staying in the home is a valid choice.
There are several other factors that play into this choice. These are important considerations:
Can you still drive, and are you able to stay active?
Does your home have bedrooms and laundry on the main floor, or does access require stairs?
Do you have adequate opportunities for socialization?
Is your current neighborhood safe?
If one of the spouses pass, can the one left manage the home alone?
Are you able to prepare nourishing meals?
Are you relying on children to provide support and home maintenance?
Have you investigated the availability and cost of Home Care or Private Duty Care for extra support in your home?
Do you have a way to contact emergency care quickly?
Have you considered the devaluation of your home when you are not keeping up with regular updating and modernization?
Do you think of returning your large home to the market inventory for a new young family?
Obviously, many considerations make the “aging in place” scenario a poor choice. Each Senior should individually decide what is best for themselves. If any of these questions are answered negatively, staying in your home may not be best. Living in a Senior Community solves all of the problems listed!
As we move forward in the next few weeks, the other myths will be addressed in detail. In the meantime, contact McCrite Plaza and go for lunch and a tour. Understand your options and see with your own eyes the many options available to you!